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Student wants to know what stethoscope is best


Hello all, recently I was admitted into nursing school to get my BSN. I start in fall 2015. I have yet to purchase a stethoscope for class. I have heard mixed reviews on stethoscopes and was hoping to get some feedback here on what brand and kind is your favorite and why? Thanks!


Has 18 years experience.

Don't buy one until you need one. My college had a basic one for sale in the bookstore which several classmates loved and it was dirt cheap. Littman had a rep who came in during the year and sold their brand at a "student discount"

I love my Littman, had both.

Depends on your hearing, budget and preference.


I got my littmanns Classic as a present. It's great. Can hear every thing I need for nursing.

And it's only about 70$. And it's the holiday time of the year. :).

firstinfamily, RN

Has 33 years experience.

I have used mostly Sprague type stethoscopes, I like the way they are styled and their versitility. I have not had problems hearing with them until my "selective deafness" started becoming a problem. I am considering going to an electronic stethoscope at this time. Both above posts are wise, wait and see if you can get one at a discount from your college, or ask for one as a Christmas gift. I know several nurses who use Littmans and prefer them. They just were not as comfortable in my ears as the sprague has been. Plus it comes with both adult and pediatric fittings so you can use it for all your clinicals instead of purchasing a pediatric stethoscope later. Put your money in your shoes---get really, really good shoes and your feet will thank you!!! Watch needs to just be a basic one, don't spend a lot on a designer type watch.


Specializes in LTC, med/surg, hospice. Has 7 years experience.

I like my Adscope. Someone else did too because it was stolen before and I had to get a replacement.

No one ever tried to steal my Littman.

mindofmidwifery, ADN

Specializes in ICU Stepdown.

I have used both a Prestige stethoscope and Littman, they both sounded as good as the other so I ended up buying Prestige. My ears might suck but if something cheap works as good as something expensive might as well go with the cheap. I'll probably end up getting a Littman when I graduate though.


Specializes in Infection Control, Med/Surg, LTC. Has 41 years experience.

One you can hear from, of course! Actually, it may sound like a joke but get one that is comfortable in your ears - I have small ear canals and many fit so poorly I'd hear everything except what I was supposed to be hearing. Also, get one you can afford to loose and will not break your heart. I've 'lost' (or had kleptoed) than I can count. Make sure your name is on it. Keep the tubing supple - do not clean any but the ear buds with alcohol swabs, hardens the tubing. As does the ever popular wearing it around the neck - reacts with skin oils to harden the tubing. Stethoscope covers, while protective, may be banned due to infection control issues. They can transmit MDROs if not washed or changed daily. Disinfection with SaniTowels sans bleach between patients is vital. Do not use bleach on metal parts. To carry easily, you can purchase a neat gadget that attaches to your belt/waist ban that hold the bell and ear stems allowing your scope to be carried easily. Runs about $6 at EMT and nursing accessory e-shops.

Have fun. I loved neon colors. Could spot my scope a mile away being kleptoed by some Doc who could certainly afford to buy his own. Held a Doc's glasses for ransom one time to get my scope back. He never took it again.

Edited by rnforforty


Specializes in Med-Surg and Neuro.

I just bought a littman and honestly don't understand what all the fuss is about. It sounds the same as any other stethoscope.

Also, another tip: don't leave it in your car. I used to leave all my medical stuff in the trunk while in nursing school, and the FL summers melted the plastic around the diaphragm and the plastic piece falls out now, making the stethoscope useless. I'm going to leave them in my locker now that I have a locker.

I bought a Littmann cardiology III when I got into school. My aunt is an RN and she said she's had her Littmann cardiology III for years and it's still going strong so I saw it as an investment. Also the fact that I paid $200 for it (i paid extra for the all black version because it looks really cool, haha) kept me motivated to not drop out of school, lol :lol2: I also got it engraved so it didn't decide to grow feet and take a walk on me...

I had a friend who bought a basic one from the school store and it worked fine for her all through school. She bought herself a Littmann as a graduation gift to herself though.

Edited by blah_blah_blah

akulahawkRN, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 6 years experience.

I have had several stethoscopes over the years, ranging from the very cheap ( $200). I have primarily used my stethoscopes in the transport environment, so being able to reject outside noise is important to me, but isn't as big an issue in the clinical setting. As a student, we were provided relatively cheap stethoscopes that certainly did OK. I generally prefer, and advise, stethoscopes that are in the $30-$70 range (any brand) as those generally provide good acoustical response as well as being cheap enough that you can usually afford to replace them if they're stolen or lost.

My own personal stethoscopes range from a $40 Littmann Light II (discontinued) and a Littmann Cardiology III. I have had these stethoscopes for about 15 years now as I got them when I was working as an EMT and later as a Paramedic. These work very well for that environment and as I know what I'm listening for already, and already had them on hand, I used them throughout Nursing School. Most of my classmates got Littmann Lightweight stethoscopes and they're generally very happy with them.

As at least one poster above mentioned that fit must be considered. You must make sure that the stethoscope fits your ears well or you will not be able to hear what you're supposed to. A high-quality stethoscope that doesn't fit you is effectively worthless to you. There are lots of quality stethoscopes available, so find the one that works for you, fits your ears, and is cheap enough for you to not be too put out if it walks away.

Thank you all for the great advice, I really appreciate all your feedback!